I was humming Ricky Nelson’s “Garden Party” yesterday while working in our own garden, but the song was triggered by the Exeter Garden Party, a fundraiser sponsored by the Exeter Chamber of Commerce, that we were invited to last evening by our Dry Creek neighbors Steve and Jody Fuller. The highlight of the annual event for us is being able to visit with Dick and Pat Jacobsen of Rocky Hill Inc. From long-time pioneer families, both Dick and Pat have a wealth of historical information.
I went to the Lincoln School in Exeter until the fifth grade where Pat (Pogue) Jacobsen first began as a teacher. Last night she reminded me once more that my sister Virginia was the perfect student and that I was an incorrigible little boy. My memory of those days is hazy, but to be among children our age while living out in the country could easily become an adventure.
Dick asked me if I’d read Bill DeCarteret’s “Mountains, Mules and Memories” and told a story about a mule named Dynamite that he and John Crowley had taken on a pack trip. I’d packed the mule myself and swapped the story of a layover day in the High Sierras (unbeknownst to Bill) when a couple of young packers thought they could saddle and ride him. Typical of most mules, Dynamite was willing to endure being packed, but not being rode.
I referred to Dynamite as one of a half-dozen Number Nine mules that Bill DeCarteret had in his string, knowing that the mules had come from the Oregon Ranch that Jim Pogue owned. Pat went on to tell me that “9” branded on their hips was a really a “JP” and that the mules had draft horse mothers that her dad had bred, which accounted for their extraordinary size and endurance.
Exeter hasn’t grown much since I was a boy with a population of about 4,000, today it’s 10,000, but it’s a delightful, well-kept town with many service organizations. A throwback to the old days, it’s always a pleasure to do business in Exeter. It was a delightful evening, but I suspect we were the only ones talking mules.